What is a Business Simulation?
In recent years, business simulations have become a more widely used training method across all industries. More companies are adopting this digital learning solution because it’s engaging and effective. For IndustryMasters, business simulations are complex, web-based, online “games” used to train employees in a constructive, risk-free, fun environment. Business simulations are just what the name suggests – they simulate specific business situations in which employees take on managerial or C-level roles and make quarterly, half-yearly or annual decisions in order to successfully run the simulated business. These simulations teach participants teamwork, leadership, strategic thinking, problem solving, and business acumen skills. If you want to know more about what it’s like to participate in a business simulation, here are six things you can expect:
1. Realistic Scenarios
When some employees are asked to participate in a business simulation, they assume that they’re going to be playing a video game with elements of fantasy and adventure. But business simulations are based on realistic scenarios that teach employees personal and professional skills. If you participate in a business simulation expecting to play a fantasy game, you’ll be disappointed. If you go participate anticipating an engaging, educational, and rewarding experience, then you will not only enjoy yourself, but learn a lot, too.
While business simulations are fun and engaging activities, their primary purpose is to educate. For this reason, they are filled with a wide range of challenges, usually in the form of critical decisions with trade-offs: buy vs. build, hire vs contract, lease vs. buy, and many more. These challenges help advance employees’ decision-making and teamwork skills because they must familiarize themselves with all the data available. In Addition they must consult with their teammates before making strategic decisions. While learning new skills throughout these challenges, participants improve soft skills such as leadership, communication, collaboration and time management.
3. Group Engagement
A decision that one might make on their own is often changed after consulting with another. When participating in business simulations, employees don’t make every decision in isolation. Rather, they are encouraged to engage with their team members. In some of our simulations, data is only revealed to certain roles rendering teams that don’t communicate and collaborate at a distinct disadvantage. Don’t expect to be a singular sensation when competing in most business simulations! (Note: opportunities do exist for individual participation — we refer to these as single-player simulations — and there is great value, though the opportunity for collaboration becomes challenging.)
4. Decision Making
Business simulations allow participants an opportunity for hands-on learning and decision making. While they may not be in a position to make major decisions about their company in real life, within a simulation they can do this risk-free. It’s crucial that employees not only improve their problem-solving skills, but that they also understand the interconnectedness of business decisions. It may seem that they are only making a single decision, when really that one decision affects many others. By providing participants with a variety of business challenges during simulations, they enhance their decision-making skills. Ultimately they gain a deeper understanding of the connections between decisions.
5. Complex Interaction
A business simulation allows employees to act as managers or C-level officers and make the critical decisions about running the business. Essentially, participants experience life through the perspective of someone else. Business simulations are strategically created to present many complex interactions throughout the event. In these interactions, participants are presented with role plays and presentation exercises that require them to tactfully convey their reasoning for a decision to others on their team or with the simulation event. In the real world, this is exactly how important decisions are made: based on interaction, not the ticking of a box or signing of a form.
When participating in a business simulation, employees can expect to receive feedback in a number of forms. From a team score, to various KPI metrics of the simulated business, to responses from peers during debriefs, and more — feedback from an event that includes a business simulation is abundant. A training event that includes a business simulation can last for a day, a week, or even longer. Over that period of time, participants will have made some good and poor decisions. Many of which will lead to robust debrief conversations making the simulation event a comprehensive and rewarding learning experience.